A PRIVATE health insurance scheme afforded to West Oxfordshire District Council staff has been modified after a “rogue” year.

At a Human Resources committee last month, it was decided that the council’s total contribution should not exceed £18,000 a year.

Members will now also be required to pay any excess on claims and it will not be made available to new staff members.

It comes after the amount claimed from the council’s private health insurance jumped 92 per cent from April 2012 to April 2013, in what it described in a report as a “rogue” year.

It attributed this rise from £17,699 in 2011- 2012 to £37,611 in 2012-13 to a “significant increase” in claims.

The budget for the Health Scheme provision was £24,000 and has been slashed by £6,000.

But Duncan Enright, the West Oxfordshire District Council Labour group leader, remained sceptical.

He said: “I don’t understand why anyone in the district council needs private health insurance. We must honour staff contracts but the amount should be minimised.”

Robert Oxley, of the TaxPayers Alliance said: “We already pay the salaries of these staff and NHS healthcare they require through our taxes, so there is no justification for fleecing taxpayers for private health insurance.”

The scheme will be reviewed again next year to ensure that no further changes are needed for the 2015/16 budget.